Registration questions and answers

I’m a PA or AA who is already on my voluntary register - why can’t you transfer my details to add me to your register? 

We’re working with the Faculty of Physician Associates (FPA) and the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCoA) to establish what information they may be able to share to help us ensure that the registration process is as smooth and proportionate as possible. 

But, to ensure that patients and employers can have confidence in professionals listed on our register, we also need to need to check there are no current issues that could affect your fitness to practise. 

How do I join the FPA or RCoA voluntary register?

You can find out more about how to join one of the voluntary registers on the FPA or the RCoA website.

What do you mean by a UK PA/AA qualification?

This means any qualification in Physician Associate, Physician Assistant, Anaesthesia Associate or Physician Assistant (Anaesthesia) studies awarded by a UK university at the level of a postgraduate diploma or above. 

I’m a UK-qualified PA who can’t sit the national exam because I’ve used up all my permitted attempts. What should I do?

As part of the transition to statutory regulation, UK qualified PAs who who’ve failed the PA National Exam (PANE) three times (the current number of permitted attempts) will be granted additional attempts. We’re discussing this issue with the FPA and will provide more details as soon as we can.  

I’m a US-qualified PA. How do I register with you?

When regulation starts, if you’re already on the voluntary register managed by the FPA, you’ll just need to complete a fitness to practise declaration, provide an employer reference for your most recent PA role, and submit evidence of good standing from your US regulator. We won’t ask US-qualified PAs who are on the voluntary register to sit the UK PANE. 

US-qualified PAs who aren’t on the voluntary register, or who want to start work in the UK after regulation is introduced, will need to apply for GMC registration under our international registration process, which will include a requirement to sit the PANE. 

I’m an overseas-qualified PA or AA who wants to work in the UK but I’m not eligible to join the voluntary registers. What should I do? 

When regulation starts you can apply to join our register under our international registration process. Under this process, you’ll need to have a qualification that we recognise as acceptable for UK registration. We’ll then ask you to sit the PA national exam (PANE) or an equivalent assessment for AAs. We’ll announce further details about this process and the qualifications we’ll recognise as acceptable, in 2021.

I’m working in the UK as a PA/AA but haven’t got a formal qualification. Can I still apply for GMC registration? 

You may be able to join our register without a formal qualification during the two year transition period, if you can demonstrate extensive and relevant UK practice prior to regulation. 

You’ll need to show evidence of appropriate knowledge, skills and experience. And as a minimum, you’ll need to present validated evidence of employment as a PA or AA in the UK for at least three of the last five years (or part-time equivalent), including demonstrating a breadth and depth of practice consistent with the current PA Competence and Curriculum Framework or AA Curriculum Framework. Additionally, PAs will need to pass the PANE, and AAs may be asked to sit an assessment.

We’ll announce more information on this process next year. 

I’m a qualified PA/AA without any practice experience, can I still apply to register with you? 

Yes, you can apply to join our register when statutory regulation is introduced. You’ll need to provide evidence of your qualification and a statement outlining why you haven’t practised yet. This could be because you are newly qualified or have decided not to practise. If you’re a PA, you’ll also have to provide evidence of your national assessment pass.

What is a fitness to practise declaration? What information would I need to provide if making an application to join your register? 

The declaration is a way for you to assure us that there are no ongoing or previous concerns about your performance, professionalism or behaviour during your education, training or practice as a PA/AA. We also need to check whether you have any health concerns which might impact on your ability to work safely. If you tell us about something, it doesn’t mean you can’t join the register. It may mean we ask for extra information to help us assess your fitness to practise and make a decision about your registration.

Should I ask my employer for a reference now so I’m ready to register as soon as regulation starts?

Please don’t contact your employer for a reference until we ask you. We’ll send you a specific form to complete, which will need to be signed and dated no earlier than three months before you apply to us for registration.

I’m on the PA voluntary register and due to recertify. Do I still need to do my recertification exam?

If you’re due to recertify before the start of regulation, you should keep your membership of the voluntary register up to date by resitting the written part of the PA national assessment when the FPA requests this. 

Once I’m on your register, will I need to recertify periodically?

You’ll be expected to maintain your skills and continue to be fit to practise as a PA/AA once you are registered with us. We are yet to determine our approach to assessing continued competence. We’ll make further announcements about this closer to the start of regulation. 

Should I be having regular appraisals?

We will issue guidance on appraisal for PAs and AAs once regulation starts. In the meantime, you should follow the requirements of your employer and, for PAs, guidance issued by the FPA.

I’m a qualified doctor. Can I join the PA or AA registers?

PAs and AAs are distinct professions with their own education and training pathways and qualifications. It won’t be possible to register with us as a PA/AA solely on the basis of a medical degree. You’ll need to meet the requirements set out on our website.  

I’m an employer recruiting to a new PA or AA role. Do I need to specify that applicants must be registered?

Before regulation begins, we’d recommend that you ask any new PAs or AAs to join the existing voluntary registers before they start work. This will ensure they meet the standards needed to practise in the UK. Once regulation starts, anyone who hasn’t already qualified or practised in the UK will need to register with us before they can work as a PA/AA. We know that some existing PAs and AAs will need time to meet our registration requirements, so we’ll allow them to practise for up to two years without registration. After that point, nobody will be able to work as a PA or AA in the UK without being on our register.